There have been reports of complaints from players on the Mets about comments Darryl Strawberry made about the team.
Apparently last weekend while visiting the clubhouse, Darryl tried to give the team a pep talk to encourage them, but it wasn't taken well by Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur.
When asked, Francoeur downplayed any problems he had with Strawberry, expressing his approval of having former players like Straw in the clubhouse.
So is it a positive or a negative having former players in the clubhouse? Can it rub players the wrong way? Is it less tolerable in New York because of all the pressure the players are already under and the criticism they constantly receive?
I think there may be two schools of thought here: old school and new school.
The perception of old school thinking is accountability, professionalism, being tough, respecting the game, playing through injuries, defending your team, etc. The perception of new school thinking is play your best to get the most money, individual before team, don't work hard, don't hustle, just rely on your "God-given" abilities.
These may not be the most accurate descriptions, and it doesn't mean that everyone who has played in the past have the "old school" mentality. Similarly, just because a player plays in the present doesn't mean he has a "new school" mentality. There were players in the past who played for themselves, and there are many players who play today that are not selfish and all about money.
There is a shadow with players and their attitudes, though, and I think the main thing to keep things in line is accountability.
Recently there was the Hanley Ramirez incident with his manager Fredi Gonzalez due to Hanley's lack of hustle. The Marlins are a young team, and the only real veteran presence on the team is Ramirez himself. Before there was Hanley Ramirez, there was Miguel Cabrera, who hasn't been known to be the best example.
With no true veteran presence on the Marlins, the organization had Andre Dawson and Tony Perez step in, and they helped put Hanley in his place, as I stated in a previous article.
With the Mets there has been so much criticism pointed at the lack of leadership in the clubhouse. Players have been criticized for being soft or not outspoken enough. If you want to say, there has not been that "leader" on the team.
Many criticized Carlos Delgado for not being that leader, and he had a reputation of being a negative presence in the clubhouse.
This season the Mets have had vocal leaders, players who have helped in handling the media, like Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Alex Cora, David Wright, and Rod Barajas. Even Ike Davis is quickly becoming a voice.
Something that keeps a player from being able to really take a stand as a leader and hold teammates accountable is when a player is struggling. The Mets seem hot right now, but there was a time recently when they were in a terrible slump and just couldn't rely on anyone to step up on the field or off.
When players struggle or slump, there are many ways to go about getting out of it. Some look at video, some practice a little more, whether in the cage or bullpen, and many are even superstitious and do funny things for luck.
The manager or hitting coach or pitching coach may give a pep talk to a player, but I don't think there is anything better than having a former player who has been in the spotlight, on the big stage, having faced adversity and been successful, coming around the team and imparting wisdom. They can give the insight that others can't give.
It's great having Darryl, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, Bob Ojeda, Wally Backman, Howard Johnson, and others around.
Whenever I watch SNY and I see Darling and Hernandez doing their color commentating, I always wonder if they approach players when they see something and share it. I think Darling and Hernandez may be the best for that because they are seeing the game from a different perspective and they are seeing games every day, travelling with the players too.
Could having these players around have a negative effect? Of course it can; everything can have a negative effect, when you have too much of something or when the timing is off. You may feel that the organization has failed in many ways in regards to how they run the team, but you can't deny the good things, and having these former players around is something great.
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